Alcohol Prevention

Underage Drinking 1

Underage drinking continues to be a national public health issue, especially among adolescents.
An estimated 10 million people younger than the age of 21 in the United States drank alcohol in the past month

Underage drinking puts children at risk for a variety of short- and long-term physical and emotional problems.
It also affects and endangers the lives of those around them.

In the words of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking,
“Underage alcohol use is everybody’s problem – and its’ solution is everybody’s responsibility.”


The goal of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) “Talk.
They Hear You.” Underage Drinking Prevention National Media Campaign is to reduce underage
drinking among children ages 9 to 15 by engaging parents in prevention behaviors.

Supports the STOP Act

The SAMHSA Underage Drinking Prevention National Media Campaign is mandated under the Sober
Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act).  The STOP Act was created to engage communities
and parents to be responsible for preventing underage drinking.  The policy calls for modified enforcement
of drinking laws, steps to reduce alcohol’s availability to teenagers, increased research on underage drinking,
an adult-oriented media campaign, and improved monitoring of alcohol advertising to youth.


The Campaign will reach parents and caregivers of children between the ages of 9 and 15 through radio,
television, and print public service announcements (PSAs); social media; the Campaign website; partnership networks; amd direct outreach.

Knowledge Base

The Campaign will add to the current knowledge base about underage drinking prevention.
Findings from analyses, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups and interviews with parents,
caregivers, and children ages 9 to 15 informed the development of the campaign.

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The Facts

Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults.  Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start
to think differently about alcohol.  Many children begin to thing underage drinking is OK.  Some
even start to experiment.  In fact, around 80 percent of children feel that their parents should
have a say in whether they drink alcohol.  It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol.

Cost to Society

In 2010, underage drinking cost the United Stated $62 Billion.  These costs include medical care,
work loss, and pain and suffering associated with the multiple problems resulting from the use of alcohol by youth.
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Children who drink alcohol are more likely to:

Use Drugs

Frequent binge drinkers (nearly 1 million high school students nationwide)
are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs
such as Marijuana and Cocaine.

Get Bad Grades

Children who use alcohol have higher rates of academic problems and
poor school performance compared with nondrinkers.

Suffer injury or death

In 2009, an estimated 1,844 homicides; 949,400 nonfatal violent crimes
such as rape, robbery, and assault; and 1,811,300 property crimes,  including
burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributable to underage drinking.

Engage in risky sexual activity

Young people who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active at
earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have
unprotected sex.

Make bad decisions

Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that children will engage
in risky behaviors or do something that they will regret when they are sober.

Have health problems

Young people who drink are more likely to have health issues such as
depression and anxiety disorders.

Partnership Development

The Campaign will bring together organizations and people who are passionate about
preventing underage drinking.  Partners will have the opportunity to be a part of a network
consisting of national organizations and stakeholders and the federal government.
Together, they will share ideas and resources with the goal of reaching audiences at
the community, state, and national levels.  Partners will be recognized as national
leaders in underage drinking prevention. 
 Over the last several decades, scientific understanding and knowledge of the dangers
of underage drinking is associated with various negative consequences for children
and can affect and endanger the lives of those around them.

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